Among those is the Disabled Patriot Fund, which provides money to the injured so they can live productive lives. The group held their annual fundraiser this week, and among their supporters were leaders of Chicago's Sikh community. It has a history of military service that stretches back for generations.
The event made for an interesting meeting of Americans, united in honoring-- and helping-- the latest generation of veterans move on from the war on terror.
Upstairs at Gibson's Restaurant in the heart of River North, over 250 gathered to celebrate veterans. The young men and women are scarred physically and emotionally from the war on terror.
Since 2004, the Disabled Patriot Fund has raised and given away $1.7 million to people like Antioch army specialist Nick Mapson who now lives on a military pension after enduring burns to nearly half his body after an improvised explosive device blew up his vehicle in Afghanistan in 2004.
In the audience is a table of leaders from Chicago's Sikh community, compelled to reach out to the Disabled Patriot Fund, whose members largely come from the southwest suburban building industry, when they heard of the good work DPF carried out. At one time 25% of the British Indian Army was comprised of Sikhs, and this event was a chance to bond with strangers over something that unites all Americans.
"We are part of mainstream America. These are our soldiers, our patriots that love this country and we also love this country. That's why we are here, we want to honor them for all they have done for our nation," said Rajinder Singh Mago, Sikh community leader.
The outreach was a pleasant surprise to the man who started the DPF.
"When we have an event we just generally attract Americans that are patriots, that are happy and thankful for those going to fight for our freedom," said Patrick McShane, chairman, Disabled Patriot Fund.
In the end, the event raised another $60,000 for the DPF, money that will be given out in $5,000 increments or more, or even help with a house or a car, to those who have paid a real price for freedom.
"I am blown away. I didn't expect this, it means so much that you know people are willing to go out of their way to help me!" said Jonathan Jans, Marine Corporal injured in Iraq.
The DPF has helped hundreds of returning Chicago area veterans in its nearly decade of existence. It's a testament to what can be done for real American heroes at the local level.
For more information on the Disabled Patriot Fund: http://disabledpatriotfund.com/